Posts from 14th October 2004

Oct 04

I have on my desk a bottle of Palestinian beer

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 442 views

I have on my desk a bottle of Palestinian beer. The importers of Taybeh Beer are interested in SOAS stocking it. We can’t, due to buying restrictions via the NUS, but politically it might be a bit dodgy anyway. Because the distributor si giving some of their profits to charity. But are splitting those donations one to an Israeli charity, and one to a Palestinian one.

In the companies press they suggest they are not being political in distributing the beer. It is just a really nice beer (which I hope to be able to test some time soon). But the very act of distributing it is necessarily political. The brewery is in Ramallah, the company has been massively hit by the intifada. That said this bottle was brewed on licence in Belgium. My Palestinian colleague was very keen on having a bottle, he hasn’t had it for ages. But was less enamoured with the non-interventionist politics of the distributors. The actual Taybeh beer website is a bit more honest about a potential political effect of their product – “Political independence depends on economic independence”

The science of movie chemistry.

Do You SeePost a comment • 687 views

The science of movie chemistry. I would be really interested in this because it strikes me that so many romantic comedies stumble at this, the most important part of the process: the casting. Unfortunately the article is a bit of a gyp because it seems they are only willing to put their cards on the table after the fact.

This is also interesting to me because last night myself and Magnus brainstormed a perfect romantic comedy, and the next question is what to do with it. Man alive it was good though.


FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 248 views

Dissensus: sincere best wishes and good luck to Matt, Mark and co. with this project (a new message board).


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 173 views


i got into Eyes, Lies & Illusions for free, by pretending to be r.sinker not m.sinker and thus in the education&outreach racket. This wz a good thing, cz it’s a bit lame for ‘9, sadly. Werner Nekes’s collection is exhaustive but that actually means a lot of repetition w.minor variation, and – ok this sounds fucked-up but it’s true – we kinda moved a real long way on in the technology of phantasmagorickal visual wonder trickery and trumpery, and it wz really quite dull and disappointing, except maybe for praxinoscope collectors and similar obsessives and specialists (the final section inc.lots of stuff by Eaeadweaeard Muybridge, ie the birth of cinema; earlier elements being distorting mirrors, peephole boxes containing perspective illusions, shadow lanterns etc).

Some of the items were very charming, but the pile-up of scarcely varied similarity (instead of one such-and-such there wd be a line) was boring, and half of the things didn’t really seem to DO anything, an eye-opener only in the sense of how easily visually pleased and gadget-deprived earlier centuries were: not their fault obv (also i imagine the brightness of the original colours had faded a lot) => the loveliest things i think were the 16th and 17th century books abt optics, vast detailed tomes in which, precisely bcz visualising technology wz so limited (b/w woodcuts or lithographs), you had to do the work with words… tho of course you could not flip through these books as they were in glass cases

also the what-the-butler-saw “exotic dancer” said “one cent” on the machine but only worked if you put a POUND COIN in it!!!! Anyway only go if yr really REALLY already into this kind of material and FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T TAKE KIDs unless they are even more into it than you.

(best overheard remark: “it wasn’t really an art class but they did have access to felt tip pens”)


Do You SeePost a comment • 945 views


Swopping is funny. The cinema proves it. The fish out of water scenario is great, all the more so when you get two for the price of one. Trading Places, for all its borderline offensive set-up manages to handle one of its swops in an exemplary fashion, and the other one it does not completely fuck up. A product very much of the early eighties, it is a film where the black protagonist outshines the rest of his estimable company and does so by generally being clever (though completely desexualised).

Rich white kid becomes poor. Poor black man is made rich. The race aspect is essential to the film because however low Dan Ackroyd gets busted, he never fulfills the position in society that Eddie Murphy’s street level hustler does. Indeed it is only due to complete lack of gumption that Ackroyd falls as far as he does. In comparison Murphy is a fast talking, hard working operator for whom merely surviving is the highest he can naturally get. The film does not want to play politics but has to. In the film these people lives are callously manipulated by two of societies Stupid White Guys (in the parlance) for a bet. But society has already fucked Murphy up, the guy who can effectively turn the tables at the end is more than smart enough to operate in that world. But is usually not allowed.

So socially transgressive? Not really. It does not want to talk about its politics, so much so that it happily throws a tart with a heart into the mix. Ackroyd loses his money but finds love = the old the poor people don’t have much but at least they have genuine affection bullshit that any class structure is predicated on. Ie its okay being in the lower class, because they have something the rich don’t. It is not enough that Murphy is manipulated into his position of wealth, we the audience feel he has to earn it as well (as if twenty years on the street would not be enough). The heart of American class politics and racial politics in the early eighties is laid bear in this rather minor comedy, which makes it fascinating viewing.

But it is really not that funny.

Hidden secrets of nursery rhymes

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 365 views

Hidden secrets of nursery rhymes: lit crit equivalent of “The Magic Roundabout is all about drugs”, surely? And why is the book title a Smiths reference?

Your search – “lemon polenta cake with warmed seasonal berries” – did not match any documents.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,088 views

Your search – “lemon polenta cake with warmed seasonal berries” – did not match any documents.

New pud on offer currently at Pizza Express and yr correspondent i’m afraid went into such a snit at the way this item wz expressed on the menu that he failed as dr vick pointed out even to read the next (rather long) line which at least explained WHY it sed the thing that so annoyed yr correspondent DEEP BREATH ok “warmed” WARMED??!! WHY DO I CARE? wz the gist of my kneejerk: do they take me 4 a person who wd turn my nose up at “lemon polenta cake with seasonal berries” as just too too common dwahling??!! Well actually it wz hinting at some kind of hot-cold baked alaska dealie i think (ask dr vick), so their reasoning may not have been so evil BUT THEIR WORD CHOICE IS STILL PONCEY! It seems to be implicitly appealing to the custumer’s self-plzed sense of his/her superior grasp of the higher subtleties of the chef’s art WELL FUCK OFF GIVE ME TREACLE SPONGE w.BIRDS CUSTARD IN THAT CASE PLEASE yes WITH LUMPS yes

Better (for the hed) = “hot and cold lemon cake”, and leave the details to the explanatory second part.

(it is possible i am merely insane – my dining companion seemed to think so) (“oh ur putting this on yr blag aren’t u” she said)

This is another record I like.

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 265 views

This is another record I like.

It’s called “De Reklamation” by German band Wir Sind Helden. The basic idea seems to be a fairly loving recreation of the sound of early 80s cusp-of-pomposity new wave (or Neue Deutsche Welle if we’re being pedantic), i.e. not a million miles from what The Killers are supposed to be doing, except I can’t stand The Killers and I really like this lot. Part of it is down to the language barrier – it is entirely possible, in fact likely, that to a German speaker WSH’s lyrics include stupidities on the scale of “I got sold but I’m not a soldier” but of course I can’t tell. Anyway the tunes are fine – I put chop-and-bop hit “Guten Tag” up here as an MP3 a while back; the rest of the album doesn’t quite match its glee but that’s made up for by portentious slowies like “Denkmal” where the singer sounds sexy in a sort of hot-headed righteous student protester way. The whole album makes me think of the first time I went to Germany, when I ate in an ugly yet striking pizzeria with the country’s biggest Fischer Z fan.